Working Group Pad

carriegolden edited this page Jan 7, 2012 · 2 revisions

This information was collected by members of an ad hoc working group formed during the International Open Data Hackathon's DC event, on December 3rd, 2011. Some of it has already been broken out into other areas of documentation.

Data sources

OIRA - - Offers review of every(?) regulation for itself passing regulatory muster, and offers metadata (including legal authority) for each regulation, indexed by RIN - Identifiers: - RIN (example: 0648-XD40) - always? - US Code section - always?

List of agencies who opted into the Unified Agenda::

RIN Agency Codes (first 4 numbers of the RIN that identify the agency promulgating the rule)

Federal Register - - Official event calendar for the federal government, notices of proposed regulations, public comment window open/closing, final regulations - Identifiers: - Federal Register Number (example: 07-05246) - always - RIN (example: 0648-XD40) - sometimes

US Code Table III - - Table (HTML) mapping parts of public laws to pages in the Statutes and to pieces of the US Code - Identifiers: - US Code section - always - Statutes at Large listing - always - Public Law Numbers (example: 86102) - always

Parallel Table of Rules and Authorities - - Table (plaintext) mapping parts of the Code of Federal Regulations to pieces of the US Code or the Statutes at Large - Identifiers: - CFR reference (example: 36 Part 705) - always - US Code section (example: 2 U.S.C. 136) - sometimes - Statutes at Large listings (example: 66 Stat. 173) - sometimes - - Has notices, proposed rules, final rules, etc., from the Federal Register, as well as public comments - Includes data from these agencies:!aboutPartners (particularly look at the links for "participating" and "non-participating" agencies at the bottom) - Identifiers: - docket and ID number (example: CMS-2005-0001-0001) - always - RIN (example: 0648-XD40) - sometimes - CFR reference (example: 50 CFR 648) - sometimes - Federal Register Number (example: 07-05246) - sometimes

Downloadable US Code - - GPO Locator form - - Cornell's description of locator codes, with links to tools: - A Perl script by Cornell for parsing these: - "Quick Guide" by the House for working with them - Less-than-quick guide:

Cornell provides the US Code in XML, transformed form the GPO Locator files - tarballs: - If you use them, contact them for attribution and a badge:

Federal Reserve Board example

Example of a regulatory agency's amplifying guidance for a "regulation". In this case, the Federal Reserve Board's Supervision and Regulation Letter (SR) 11-12 titled, "Deregistration Procedures for Certain Savings and Loan Holding Companies" ( The FRB also issues Consumer Affairs Letters (CA). Are FRB SRs and CAs logged in the Federal Register, or only the initial changes? A full text, date constrained search of the Federal Register using the search term "SR 11-12" yielded irrelevant results.

Further refinement of the search using search terms such as "Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act", which is the act that precipitated the SR, yielded more focussed results, but none pertained specifically to the SR. This leads one to believe that SRs and CAs are not logged in the Federal Register. Significance: If agencies use these types of amplifying guidance to "fine tune" regulation, but amplifying guidance is not noticed or linked via easily accessible and obvious methods, it reduces the transparency of the action. It also underscores the complexity of achieving a deep linking capability.

Other Resources

The Reg Map Flow chart of informal rulemaking steps.

EO 12866 - Governs the use of the RIN and marking laws, statutes and regulations

Best Practices for Fed Agencies for Improving Electronic Dockets on and Fed Document Mgmt System:

US Agencies:


FedXWalk SS:

Interesting paper on matching industries to regulations using keywords and clustering:

Industry codes -- NAICS is the classification scheme used in North America. It is a hierarchichal coding scheme with ~20 industries at the 2-digit (most aggregated) level and ~2000 industries at the 6-digit (most disaggregated) level. For official codes and descriptions:

Regulatory Identifier Number (RIN)

Every entry appearing in the Unified Agenda or Regulatory Plan is assigned a Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) (per E.O. 12866, §4). A RIN is a 4-digit agency code plus a 4-character alphanumeric code, assigned sequentially when a rulemaking is first entered into the database.

The RIN classification identifies the agency initiating the proposed regulation. For example, all RINs for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have agency code 1218. The RIN for OSHA’s rulemaking on hazard communication is 1218-AC20. Notably, a proposed regulation retains the same RIN each time it is introduced into the EPA’s data set for OIRA review. For example, OIRA reviewed an EPA rule with the RIN 2060-AG52 three times between 2001 and 2004.

Although the Regulatory Information Service Center states that each regulatory action retains the same RIN throughout the entire rulemaking process, it seems that the RIN of a proposed regulation actually may change. The RIN can change because it depends in part on its “significance.” OIRA is mandated to regulate only ”major” or “significant” proposed rules, and the “significance” of the proposed rule can change at any stage of the rulemaking process. A proposed rule is “significant” if its anticipated annual economic impact is $100 million or more.

According to a phone call with staff at RISC/ ((202) 482-7340), agencies have to put their proposed rule in the RIN database if the agency believes the proposed rule has economically significant impact. This is mandated by Executive Order (EO) 12866, but EOs do not have the force of law and agencies are still implementing it at will. EO 13563 was signed to support EO 12866 and added additional requirements to agencies. Many independent agencies participated, but they are the least likely to add their proposed rule to the RIN database. Agencies determine whether they believe a proposed rule is "significant" through an Impact Study. OMB only reviews proposed rules whose Impact Study finds the proposed rule "significant." Some agencies also put proposed rules in the RIN database that were not found to have significant impact. This means OMB does not review all proposed rules in the RIN database. Moreover, according to the staff person at RISC, proposed rules in the formal rulemaking process do not receive a RIN. In short, the RIN does not identify all proposed rules.

See a February, 2011, Harvard Law Review Note, “OIRA Avoidance,” for discussion about confusion over when and why proposed regulations sometimes change RINs (124 Harv. L. Rev. 994). See also’s Glossary entry for “Regulation Identification Number (RIN)”, which states: “The exact RIN used for a Docket varies per its current processing stage.”

Administrative Rulemaking Process

Administrative agencies make regulations to implement, interpret, or prescribe policy. Agencies call the process of making regulations “rulemaking.” There are two kinds of rulemaking: (1) formal and (2) informal. In formal rulemaking, an agency must promulgate a regulation through trial-like, “on-the-record” proceedings that include witness testimony, a written record and a final decision. In informal rulemaking, an agency promulgates rules through a less-formal (although still defined) process:

  • Publication of a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" (NPRM) in the Federal Register;
  • Opportunity for public participation by submission of written comments;
  • Consideration by the agency of the public comments and other relevant materials; and
  • Publication of a final rule not less than 30 days before its effective date, with a statement explaining the purpose of the rule.

Most agency regulations are made through informal rulemaking, which is colloquially called “Notice-and-Comment.” [Do only RIN get assigned to regulations in the “formal rulemaking” process? If “formal rulemaking” regulations don’t get assigned a RIN, how can we track them?]

Open Questions

  • Is there any substantial difference in regulations that went through a "formal" rulemaking process versus an "informal" rulemaking process?

  • Is there any substantial difference in the regulations issued by agencies versus "independent" agencies?

    • independent agencies do also need to assign a RIN to their regulations
  • Why do some regulations seemingly not have RINs? How can we identify them if they do not?

Unresolved RIN questions:

  • If the RIN changes, how can we track a proposed regulation through the rulemaking process?

  • Are all proposed regulations entered in the Unified Agenda? -No. It seems like agencies have discretion to decide whether to register a proposed regulation in the Unified Agency. Proposed agency regulations that aren't registered don't get a RIN.

  • In addition to a change in “significance,” when else might a RIN change?

  • Some proposed regulations in the Unified Agenda don’t have a RIN and others have a “RIN not assigned.” Why?

  • Do RIN get assigned to regulations in the “formal rulemaking” process? If not, how can we track them?

For example, this one from Nov 1, 2011 has no RIN assigned, either on or on!documentDetail;D=FEMA-2011-0002-0139

And this regulation from 2005 has no RIN assigned either, on or!documentDetail;D=AMS-2005-0001-0001